Posts Tagged ‘striking out’

The Risks of Using Call Waiting

“Denise, there’s a call on line 1 for you.  He wouldn’t give me his name and said ‘you’d know what he was calling about’.”

“Can’t you see I have my Do Not Disturb light on?”  I replied.  “Tell whoever it is I’m busy and I’ll call him back later.”  My assistant answered that the caller said he would hold until I was ready.  I hated sales people who were that obnoxious and couldn’t hear “No” and I brushed her off impatiently with a “Fine, he can hold until I’m good and ready then!”

I went back to the project I was working on, aggravated at yet another interruption.  I was behind the eight ball already on this day, with a to-do list longer than my arm and the end of the month looming ahead of me.

Years ago, my husband had asked me what I wanted for Christmas.  Only half-jokingly, I had answered “Eight extra hours a day so I can catch up on what I always have undone at the end of each day!”  He bought me an Ipod instead, commenting that if I had more hours I would likely just try to fit more in on my schedule.   I remembered that I needed to try to find time to upload some music for relaxation onto my Ipod and wondered if there was a teenager to whom I could outsource that task.

As I was turning out the light to leave the office, late that night, I noticed that the hold light was blinking on my phone.  I picked it up and said impatiently, “This is Denise.  Who is this?”

The voice on the other end of the line said, “It’s your life.  I’ve been waiting for you.”

I dropped the phone and started thinking about how long I had been avoiding this call.

For years now, everything else came first, that is … everything that felt like an obligation or a distraction.  Each time I heard the whisper of this call, I filled my hours with something – another project, another committee obligation, another anything – just so I wouldn’t have to sit with the voice of this caller who wanted me to look at the meaning of my life and why I was here.  I avoided this call because I was afraid I would have to do something about what I heard if I listened.

How does the call of your life haunt you?  Does it come from inside you on Sunday night when you start dreading your return to the office.  Is it the pain in your heart when you hear your six year old daughter cry because you’re leaving on another business trip that will have you away from home more nights instead of tucking her in and reading her The Velveteen Rabbit.  Maybe your calling sings the familiar song “I Should Do Something” when you read about the people who have lost everything in the latest weather disaster and you wish you could get that song out of your head and just get back to enjoying American Idol.

Calls are serious business.  Responding to them is how we make something worthwhile out of our lives. Listen here to a recording on finding the courage to listen to your call.

Not every call is a blockbuster, star-making epic.  One or two of them may take up most of our time, but other more urgent calls weave their way into our lives from time to time.  Some of them, like being a nurturing, attentive parent or riding out the illness of a friend who needs our extra attention, engage our minds and our hearts and do not earn us accolades or cover photos on national magazines.  Others draw us deep beneath the noise of social conventions and impact lives in unimaginable ways.

It is neither the duration nor the visibility of the call that matters.  A life-changing call engages your ability to listen to both the subtle and obvious messages that rise within you and to see the nuance of something transcendent in the role before you.  You answer the call through your willingness to move beyond merely filling the role or carrying out the duties a task requires by choosing to imbue your intention and your courage into your actions.

When you get serious about answering your call, mentors and supporters will appear.  They will guide you with teachable moments and they will appeal to your innate human longing to be more than what you presently are.  As you move toward embodying your calling, they will help you draw upon your courage to step into the potential that sounds quietly in your dreams.

You have a choice, to just live your life, work a job, and fulfill a role or to commit to answering a series of worthy calls within this life of yours.  Listen carefully to the whispers and shouts of your callings and answer them with all the passion and cleverness at your disposal.  Use every means of introspection and mentorship available to you to help you find the courage to answer the call to make a difference – both where you find yourself now and in the place where your calling takes you.

After all, there’s a call for you on hold right now, all you have to do is answer it.

I work as a mentor to men and women ready to listen for their calling.  Schedule a complementary session or listen to a free sample of my new e-learning program on finding your true calling.


Living On The Edge

Years ago, I was hiking in the Cascades, adjusting to the altitude in preparation for a summit of Mount Rainier. I found the two sides of the Cascades to be markedly different – one side is lush, almost rainforest-like and the other is dry and desert-like. The difference is created by the mountain peaks that capture the rain and send it rushing out of the clouds on the Western side of the peaks, leaving little moisture to fall on the dry Eastern slopes.

In my non-hiking time, I was exploring the little towns that cropped up on both sides of this ridge and wondered what it was like to have been a settler, coming west from the populated areas of our country into these unsettled parts in the 1800’s and 1900’s. What made people choose the places where they settled, I wondered. I supposed some of it was actually choice, as in they found reasonably flat land with adequate water, temperate climate and sufficient resources to homestead.

In other instances, perhaps the horse pulling their wagon died and they had no way to continue further on, so they made the best of what they found where they were stranded. In many ways, each of these families or groups of explorers reached their own edge.

I tried to imagine what kind of frontiersman I would have made. Would I have easily left behind the comforts of a town or city to strike out and claim my piece of the great American dream in uncharted lands? Would it have seemed like the greatest adventure of my life or would I have wanted clear descriptions and certain guarantees of what I would find before I would leave the safety of “civilization”? What would I have taken with me or left behind? What sacrifices would I have been willing to make to seize this sense of freedom and create my own destiny? And, how would I have dealt with the unexpected challenges along the way … would I have left my meager possessions on the side of the trail (if there even was a trail) and continued on by foot the rest of the way or would I have settled where the horse died? With what kind of attitude or regrets for not going further on or wishing I could turn back?

I am quite sure that for each person who started such a journey, there were many more who contemplated it but were unwilling to give up the “comforts of home” or who were dissuaded by the scary naysayers warning of unspeakable dangers and taunting the would-be frontiersmen with tags that they were “fools” or worse.

Several years later, I read Down The Great Unknown, the story of John Wesley Powell’s 1869 journey of discovery and tragedy through the Grand Canyon. He was a Civil War veteran with one arm who led a ragtag group of nine trappers and ex-soldiers through the unmapped rapids of the Green River in Wyoming, into the Colorado River and ultimately through the Grand Canyon. Since it was previously uncharted, they had no idea what to expect and, in many instances, were woefully unprepared. Unlike modern rafters who sail through those rapids in inflatable rafts with experienced guides, Powell’s crew used wooden rowboats and often went through those rapids rowing backwards, never knowing if they would survive the plunges. Surprisingly, despite grumbling that sometimes reached mutinous levels, Powell brought all his men through safely, except the three who abandoned the party to turn back and were never found.

Recently, when I was guiding a client through a particularly murky part of his transition to a new career, I took a break to hike in a high desert forest to gather my thoughts about how to bring the best perspective I could to his challenge. As I stopped for lunch, I noticed that the pine trees around me had what looked like little lanterns of fresh green at their tips and that the desert sage, dry and crumbly as it is in the center of the bush, had tiny flowers all along the edges. It reminded me that growth doesn’t happen close to the middle, it happens at the edges. The frontiers are where discoveries are made. It happens in those places that haven’t yet been fully charted. The edge is where things blossom.

It’s interesting to me that, historically, those with novel ideas were frequently marginalized, referred to as freaks, sometimes persecuted or considered to be outcasts who were “on the fringe” and yet, all innovation, all development, all creativity happens on that very edge. In the uncharted waters, in what hasn’t been fully explored and mapped, in fragile buds and from tiny buried seeds and nuts. The very willingness to leave behind the comfortable safety of approval and familiarity is what has driven exploration and is so much the touchstone of our nation’s foundation – pioneers, explorers, daring frontiersmen and innovators, avant-garde scouts.

It hasn’t really changed. Is there some secret longing you have that you aren’t following because it seems too risky or you’re scared of what others will think of you if you give up all this security to follow some “crazy dream”? An entrepreneur is one who takes risks to do something new or something old in a new way. That entrepreneurial spirit is snuffed out when we stop blazing trails and instead seek the familiar well-trod path of a follower, doing things the way everyone else does. How many of us have abandoned our dreams when faced with the taunts that what we long to do is foolish or too risky, only to become tethered to a post like an old horse or chained to routine in the hopes that one day, someday, we will break free and follow our dream.

Guess what? I checked the calendar:








See – there is no Someday!

We can’t afford that kind of bondage any more, that dampening of enthusiasm, waiting for someone to give us permission to fulfill our dreams before they turn to dust. The world is measurably poorer without the contributions we each can make.

Are you willing to join me on the edge, making a difference and changing the world we live in and that which we are creating for our children? I am invested in helping you do what you came here for whether anyone else calls you a freak or a fool. I have another name for you – I call you a frontiersman, an innovator, a leader, an entrepreneur, a visionary.

I have set aside several complementary sessions each week to work with people who want to change what they’re doing and seize their dreams, but don’t know where to begin. I am committed to this path of helping to open the door for you to do what you came here for. If you are interested in this journey with me, please click here.

After all, if you’re not living on the edge, you’re taking up too much space, and frankly we can’t afford it anymore, it’s too crowded in the middle. Join me here on the edge where you can see forever.